Here’s one way to spice up a chilly, post-holiday evening in January that might otherwise be a bit melancholy: BUTTERBEER. It’s all part of this complete Gryffindor Evening that you, too, can have for just one monthly instalment of candles and squashy pillows. Let your Harry Potter geek flag fly.
I’m not trying to make you jealous. I did not realize how epic our Gryffindor Evening was going to be this year until it was already in progress. Last year, Auntie Beth and our friend Matt came over one night, and I made soup and biscuits, and we built a fire in our fireplace in case someone needed to call on us using Floo powder, we pillowed up the place like a Gryffindor common room, and Beth made some hardcore Butterbeer (and I think there may have been some excellent Muggle beer as well). That was pretty great.
But THIS year, Beth and Matt took things to a whole new level. I made soup – it was taco soup, which was fun because of all the toppings, but not at all topical. (Harry and the gang literally NEVER eat taco soup for some reason. Whatever, it’s delicious, we’ll call it a substitute for steak-and-kidney pie.) Little did I know Beth was going to bring draperies to festoon the living room – she actually hung golden curtains from the rods – not to mention custom lighting… And this all in addition to the cozy blankets, requisite squashy pillows, and Butterbeer.
And Matt outdid himself as well. After dinner, wearing his “Books turn Muggles into Wizards” T-shirt, he gave the kids Hogwarts-themed word search and crossword pages, and hosted Harry Potter trivia (some of which was quite challenging!). But the most amazing part was the multicoloured potion shots (some kid-friendly, some firmly adult) that he lit on fire and made all sparkly-crackly, using the magic of overproof alcohol and powdered cinnamon. BLIMEY.
So now, it is my privilege to bring to you TWO very different recipes for Butterbeer. You’ll know which one you want to try when you read them – though I can attest that they are both scrumptious. (Unfortunately, my own Butterbeer recipe – cold version – has been lost to the vagaries of parent-brain.)
Auntie Beth’s Zesty Butterbeer:
- Put a shot of caramel sauce in the bottom of a large mug. (If you want extra wow-factor, make your own caramel sauce like my wholehearted sister – see recipe below.)
- Add a couple of shots’ worth of REAL ginger beer – you know, the spicy kind.
- Add a shot (or two) of your favourite whiskey. (Canada makes a lot of good ones, just sayin’.)
- Fill the rest of the mug with hot apple cider.
- Top with real, barely-sweetened whipped cream.
- If you’re going to take a picture of it, add a cinnamon stick in the hopes that it will distract from the fact that you
haven’t finished clearing the tableare a stickler for the gritty reality of life in photography.
Skye’s* Velvety Butterbeer:
- Melt 2 teaspoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of butter together.
- Add 1.5 cups of milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Heat in microwave or on stovetop until hot enough for you.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste), 2 teaspoons hot chocolate powder, and 1 ounce of butterscotch schnapps (or Irish cream if you want, or butterscotch syrup for the virgin version).
*It bears mentioning that Skye is a woman who knows how to host a Harry Potter-themed event. Pre-motherhood, she once hosted an all-day HP movie blitz, with her own chocolate frogs and other amazing HP snacks of which I wish I had pictures. (I think there were only 5 HP movies out at the time… A similar event would need a whole weekend at this point.)
And there you have it! Even if you aren’t technically a Gryffindor, ANYONE can enjoy a Gryffindor Evening based on delicious beverages.
P.S. In case you were wondering, though, SINCE my Pottermore fall from Hufflepuff to Slytherin (and ensuing drama), I attended a Hogwarts science event last year in which an ACTUAL SORTING HAT actually sorted me into Gryffindor. I’ve decided I’m just gonna be a quadruple-agent.
P.P.S. Oops, here’s the homemade caramel recipe (you can use cinnamon instead of almond if you prefer):